Tampa Bay Can Even Stanley Cup Final
The Tampa Bay Lightning looked more like the team that won back-to-back Stanley Cup titles in a Game 3 win than they did at any point in the first two games of the Stanley Cup Final.
The 6-2 victory on Monday kept Colorado from going after its third sweep in this year’s playoffs. The Lightning need to follow that by also winning Game 4 at home and the series will indeed have changed.
Colorado was 7-0 on the road before the most lopsided loss it has dealt with during this postseason. Tampa Bay improved to 8-1 at home.
After relatively tame contests in Games 1 and 2 from a penalty standpoint, things heated up with 10 power-play opportunities and a combined total of 58 penalty minutes. That included 38 penalty minutes in the last 7:57 of the game. That should set the stage for what could be a feisty Game 4.
According to the NHL betting lines, the series price for the favored Avalanche has moved -600 to -320 after Game 3. Tampa Bay’s odds went from +450 to +260.
Avalanche Fail To Hold Early Lead
When Gabriel Landeskog scored a power-play goal at 8:19 of the first period to open the scoring in Game 3, it was looking like business as usual. The Avalanche was 8-1 when scoring first in this year’s playoffs.
Unlike in Games 1 and 2, Colorado did not get the second goal. In fact, by the time Landeskog scored again, the Avalanche were trailing by two goals. It was something new because Colorado didn’t trail in either of the first two games.
If the two goals by Landeskog gave the Avalanche confidence, it was broken less than three minutes later when Steven Stamkos scored for the Lightning. Pat Maroon and Corey Perry added goals to put the Lightning up by four goals at the end of the second period.
Starting goalie Darcy Kuemper wasn’t there for the end of the second period. He was pulled after allowing five goals on 22 shots. Pavel Francouz, who was undefeated after coming in for an injured Kuemper in two playoff series, stopped 9 of the 10 shots he saw. That leaves a question of who will be in net in Game 4.
Neither Kuemper nor Francouz have gaudy numbers in the playoffs. Kuemper has a 2.76 goals-against average and Francouz’s GAA is 2.81. Colorado coach Jared Bednar was noncommittal when asked about the Game 4 starting goalie following Tuesday’s loss.
The NHL betting lines total has gone over in four of Colorado’s last five games as well as in each of the Avalanche’s last five matchups in Tampa.
Lightning Have Another Huge Home Game
The Tampa Bay Lightning is halfway toward their immediate goal. When the series shifted from Denver to Tampa, the two-time defending Stanley Cup champions knew that in order to have a realistic shot at a third consecutive title, they needed to take care of business at home.
The first part of that objective was accomplished with Monday’s 6-2 win. Now the Lightning need to win again in Game 4. A loss on Wednesday would put Tampa Bay in position of having to beat Colorado three times in a row, including twice on a road. That is highly unlikely.
While Tampa Bay was outshot for the third game in a row, the ice wasn’t tilted quite as much in Colorado’s favor. The 27 blocked shots and 43-31 advantage on faceoffs gave Tampa more possession time in the Colorado end. Two-time Cup winning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy took care of the rest by turning aside 37 of 39 shots.
“We knew that this was a pretty much a must-win game for us,” Stamkos said. “So I thought we played like it. I thought our attention to detail was a lot better and the game plan, not that it changed too much, but we executed it. So a way better effort for our group.”
The veterans led the way. Stamkos, Ondrej Palat and Pat Maroon each had a goal and an assist while Nikita Kucherov and Victor Hedman added two assists.
Another multi-point game for Nikita Kucherov:
➡️ 44th of the #StanleyCup Playoffs trailing Sidney Crosby (67) & Evgeni Malkin (53) for the most by active players
➡️ 7th in the Final, now the most among active players#NHLStats: https://t.co/WF3XQy7NMn pic.twitter.com/k82k1mTL1S
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) June 21, 2022
The Las Vegas odds total has gone under in 10 of Tampa Bay’s last 14 games.
Lightning vs Avalanche Head-to-Head
After the Lightning and Avalanche played four consecutive one-goal games, the last two contests have been decided by seven and four goals. Seven of the last eight contests had at least seven combined goals scored with seven of those matchups going over the total. Tampa Bay snapped a four-game losing streak to Colorado in the Monday night win.
Six of the last nine games between the teams had been decided by one goal. Colorado hasn’t lost consecutive games to Tampa Bay in the same season since dropping all three contests during the 2017-18 season.
The home team has won the last four meetings between the teams after the road teams took the previous three matchups.
Avalanche vs Lightning Game Information
- Game: Avalanche (56-19-7 in the regular season); Lightning (51-23-8)
- Location: Amalie Arena, Tampa Bay
- Day/Time: Wednesday June 22, 8 p.m. ET
- Avalanche vs Lightning LiveStream: MLB.tv
Avalanche vs Lightning Betting Lines
Avalanche vs Lightning Prediction
If Game 3 proved nothing else to the Colorado Avalanche, it showed that getting into post-whistle scrums is not the key to success against Tampa Bay. After dominating the first two games which were played mostly at even strength, things were much choppier in Game 3 with 10 power plays in the game. The Lightning finally scored their first power-play goal in the series.
Colorado will need to do a better job on faceoffs. Landeskog won 12 of his 20 draws but the other three centers were a combined 12 of 26 and that is not a recipe for success.
Tampa Bay won Game 3 without center Brayden Point. Point was injured in Game 7 of the Toronto series and missed the next two playoff series. He returned for the first two contests against Colorado. It is uncertain if he will be able to go in Game 4. Kucherov is dealing with a lower-body injury so those who bet online will need to keep an eye on his status as he leads the Lightning with 26 points in the playoffs.
Colorado played without forwards Nazem Kadri and Andre Burakovsky, who were third and fifth on the Avalanche in scoring during the regular season.
The top odds have Colorado winning the series in five games as that comes in at +225 followed by the Avalanche eliminating Tampa Bay in six games at +275. The best odds for Tampa Bay is to win in seven games as that has a payout of +500.